Reprinted with permission from DailyKos
When President Joe Biden addressed the nation Thursday in the wake of a deadly terrorist attack in Kabul, he sought to soothe, center, and steel Americans for what had been, what is, and what is yet to be.
"Tough day," Biden said from the East Room of the White House before even beginning his prepared remarks. The president's first order of business was consoling the nation over the service members who died in the attack—whom Biden repeatedly called "heroes."
"They're a part of the bravest, most capable, and most selfless military on the face of the earth," Biden said. "The best the country has to offer," he added, noting that they had given their lives in the service of liberty and the service of others.
Thirteen U.S. troops died and 15 more were injured Thursday in an explosion outside the Kabul airport that also caused dozens of civilian casualties. ISIS, a sworn enemy of the Taliban, claimed responsibility for the attack by a suicide bomber.
Biden promised to use "every measure" of his command to avenge the deaths of the service members, pledging that they would not be forgotten.
"We will hunt you down and make you pay," he promised the terrorists. But he also said that response would be carried out with "precision" at "the moment of our choosing" and "without large-scale military operations."
Biden also promised that the U.S. would remain steadfast in its ongoing operations to rescue Americans and extract as many Afghan allies and others seeking to leave as possible.
"America will not be intimidated," he said, adding that there's "complete unanimity" among the military commanders on the original objective of getting as many Americans out of Afghanistan as possible. "We will complete our mission," he pledged. Though he did not give a specific date for full withdrawal, Biden also committed to helping anyone who is unable to evacuate to get out even after U.S. troops leave.
Biden named several different groups of people who remain in the country and have "expressly indicated" they hope to get out, including American citizens, green card holders, special immigrant visa (SIV) holders, Afghans who helped the U.S.,and members of women's groups and nongovernmental organizations.
"To the extent that we can do that—knowing the threat—the military has concluded that's what we should do," he said, "I think they're correct." But he also said he believed there would "numerous opportunities" to extract more people down the road.
Biden once again indicated that there was no perfect way to end the war and that he does not regret making the decision to do so. He said he knew of no conflict in history where a war ended and "every person who wanted to get out could get out."
He also said he accepted responsibility for everything that has happened on his watch, while noting that he was hemmed in to an agreement negotiated by his predecessor.
"I bear responsibility for, fundamentally, all that's happened of late," Biden said. But, he added, "you know as well as I do, that the former president made a deal with the Taliban."
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